Middlesbrough return to Championship fixtures this weekend after their win over Aston Villa midweek in the League Cup.
In Boro’s last Championship game they managed to beat QPR 3-2. Middlesbrough showed great team spirit in that game as they came from behind twice. Something they had not done since 2005 when they beat Saturday’s opponents Fulham 3-2.
Middlesbrough are currently 7th in the Championship. A win against Fulham could see them move as high as 1st in the league on goal difference.
Here is how they might line up
4-2-3-1 now looks to be Garry Monk’s formation of choice this season. Middlesbrough have used it for the last three league games. This has earned them two wins, in which they scored three goals per game and a 0-0 in a game they had 10 men in from the 3rd minute.
So, given the success Monk is having with this formation, he is likely to deploy this system against Fulham.
GK: Darren Randolph
Randolph was rested midweek. But he should be back between the sticks against Fulham. He did make a bit of an error on Saturday for one of QPR’s goals. Other than that mistake he has been outstanding for Boro this season keeping five clean sheets in eight games. So, he should start again on Saturday.
RB: Cyrus Christie
Christie is another player who was rested midweek and is likely to return this Saturday. Christie has been excellent both offensively and defensively for Boro this season. Including getting the assist for Fletcher’s goal against QPR.
Boro seem to have found the perfect right back in Christie and he should be starting every league game for them.
RCB: Dael Fry
Fry started the season as a bench warmer for Boro. However, if you ask many Boro fans now, they would say Fry has been their best centre back this season.
This is hardly surprising given how well he has done in the Championship for Middlesbrough. If Fry keeps up these performances he may be the one leaving Boro for a Premier League team instead of Gibson.
LCB: Ben Gibson
Gibson also made an error that lead to a QPR goal last week. However, he is Boro’s vice-captain and Monk is likely to feature him once again with Fry vs Fulham.
Gibson also helped Boro keep a clean sheet on Tuesday night when the beat Villa 2-0 in the cup.
Fabio is another who made a mistake on Saturday leading to a QPR goal with the Brazilian even taking to Instagram to apologise. Despite the mistake, Fabio has still been Boro’s best left back this season and is very likely to start against Fulham.
CDM: Adam Clayton
Clayton was suspended for Boro’s cup game against Aston Villa. Thankfully for Boro fans, he is back for Saturday’s game and he is almost certainly going to start.
Clayton has been Middlesbrough’s most constituent midfielder this year and he has not let Monk down this season. He is a rock at the back and controls games for Middlesbrough very well.
CDM: Grant Leadbitter
Leadbitter and Clayton have been reforming their great partnership that saw Middlesbrough win promotion in the 2015/16 season.
Leadbitter has also retaken the captain’s armband from Gibson. He is a great leader and looks to be Clayton’s partner for the foreseeable future. Howson and Forshaw also started Boro’s midweek gaming meaning Leadbitter is likely to come back in for the Fulham game.
RM: Stewart Downing
Saturday’s game at Fulham will be Adama Traore’s last game suspended for Middlesbrough. This means Boro still need a replacement right wing. That man is likely going to be Stewart Downing.
Many people would have preferred Patrick Bamford. However, Downing was rested midweek while Bamford started in what was clearly Monk’s second team. So, despite Bamford looking sharp early in the season, Monk looks to prefer either Traore or Downing over Bamford. This means Downing will probably start vs Fulham.
CAM: Lewis Baker
Lewis Baker looks to be settling into his role as Boro’s CAM. He has looked better and better each week for Boro. Furthermore, he scored his first league goal for Middlesbrough on Saturday proving that he can help Boro score goals, something they haven’t done much of in recent years.
Lewis Wing started out as the CAM for Boro vs Villa. However, he is a u23 player and is unlikely to feature in the Championship.
LM: Marvin Johnson
Johnson is another who was rested midweek and also another who is very likely to start vs Fulham.
So far in Johnson’s Boro career he has played three league games, scored one, assisted two and got a man sent off. He is an absolute nightmare on the wing and will cause Fulham some big problems.
ST: Britt Assombalonga
Britt Assombalonga was rested midweek but he too will likely return to the starting XI on Saturday.
Assombalonga has been a goal-scoring machine for Boro this season. He has bagged five in eight in the league and Middlesbrough look to have finally found themselves a proper goal scorer after years without one.
This is how they might line up:
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